Through the centuries, humans have achieved remarkable things using the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Though we have no records from the earliest times, we can be sure that women as well as men contributed to our core knowledge. From the first campfire started with flint sparks to landing a spacecraft on Mars, women—along with men—have never stopped the forward drive for new understanding and advanced technology.
In the 21st Century, scientists around the globe, both women and men, are pressing on to ever greater discoveries that will improve life on Earth. This site is dedicated to telling the stories of women in STEM, in order to inspire the next generation of young women scientists and engineers.
My STEM Story
My story as a woman in STEM began many years ago when I graduated from college with a degree in environmental engineering.
For my first engineering job, I worked with a group of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We were looking for ways to use the extra heat created by nuclear power plants. The heat comes in the form of hot water, which is stored in cooling ponds before it’s released into nearby rivers. That way it doesn’t endanger the local aquatic life.
To make good use of the excess (or waste) heat, the researchers in my group wanted to try farming a type of tropical fish called tilapia in the warmer water. To prove their concept, they tried growing tilapia in cages floating in the lab’s sewage treatment pond. The pond’s warm waters would simulate power plant waste heat and the algae growing in the pond would serve as food for the fish.
In the Middle of a Sewage Pond
My job every morning was to row a small boat out to the middle of the pond, pull up the cages full of fish. Then I took each fish out of its cage to weigh and measure it to see how well it was growing.
My work badge soared in a perfect arc up into the air and splashed down into the murky water.
One memorable day after measuring the last fish, I reared back to toss the cage into the pond. My work badge caught on a wet, slimy rope attached to a float. The badge soared in a perfect arc up into the air and splashed down into the murky water, never to be seen again.
Writing about STEM
Seven years later, I made a career change from engineering to editing a technical magazine. Almost overnight, I went from preparing project management charts to writing and editing articles on lasers and fiber optics.
Since then I’ve had the pleasure of writing about a number of women in STEM. Here are just some of their stories:
- Gear Pioneer: Kate Gleason was way ahead of her time
- Women in the Lead: Smart Cities
- GMU professor’s ‘Nanoparticle Net’ may detect early cancer, Lyme disease
- Environmental Problem Solver Leslie Guth
- Women in Robotics: Challenges and Progress
- Fiber Optics Expert Suzanne R. Nagel
- Tunable Laser Inventor Mary Spaeth
- Women to play an increasing role in manufacturing industry
- Flex Fuel Pioneer Roberta J. Nichols
- Environmental Engineering: Career of the 90s
- Motherhood and Engineering
- Women in Lasers
What’s your STEM Story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be interviewed for my next article or e-book.
Love to write? Check out my book, 52 Inspirational Quotes by Women in STEM: A Journal for Reflection – available on Amazon.
Click here for a free downloadable ebook on Women in STEM careers.